Archive for the Lam Ching Ying Category

Review: Warriors Two (1978)

Posted in Cassanova Wong, Fung Hak-On, Hoi Sang Lee, Lam Ching Ying, Leung Kar Yan (Beardy), Sammo Hung with tags , on August 20, 2018 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Sammo Hung, Cassanova Wong, Fung Hak-On, Leung Kar Yan (Beardy), Hoi Sang Lee, Lam Ching Ying, Dean Shek

Fight Choreography by

Directed by Sammo Hung

Golden Harvest films are and have always been, at least for me, comfort food. You know what you’ll get, particularly if Sammo Hung is directing: awesome kung fu fight choreography and physical comedy that works more often than not. It all comes together magnificently in Warriors Two.

Cassanova Wong stars as Wah, a kung fu practitioner and banker, who makes the mistake of returning to work one night only to stumble upon a plot by the banker, Mr. Mo (Hak-On ) to kill the mayor and take over the down with his cronies. Wah goes to the mayor’s home only to be betrayed by the mayor’s right hand man Yao (Shek), and after being saved by Fatty (Sammo, but I’m sure you guessed that) Wah must learn Wing Chun from Fatty’s master Tsang (Beardy) in order to face Mr. Mo and his henchmen…

Cassanova Wong is a Golden Harvest stalwart, veteran of many films, and here he does a good job as the hero, but of course he gets upstaged by Sammo, who shines in every scene he’s in, bringing the comedy as the hapless Fatty, even during the darkest scenes. Fung Hak-On is menacing as Mr. Mo, but folks, this is FUNG HAK-ON. If I didn’t already assign Gordon Lui as The Greatness, Fung may well hold that title. Add in a good performance by Beardy as Master Tsang, and you’ve got classic kung-fu theater gold here! Now the story is okay but nothing more than a typical kung fu revenge story, but its the fights here is what makes this film a classic…

Lord have mercy the fights! There isn’t a single fight that isn’t exciting to watch, as Sammo Hung and company throw themselves around and unleash some truly fast kung fu, that you can tell is fast, even with the undercranking (a film technique used in many martial arts films where the film is shot at a slower frame rate in order to speed up the fights when played back). The best fight is saved for last, as Wah, Phoenix (Master Tsang’s niece) and Fatty take on all of Mr. Mo’s most dangerous men, using a variety of swords, knives and staves, and it doesn’t take long for the blood to flow like a river.

Some thing extra has to be said about that almost-forgotten scene of a great kung fu film: the training scenes! There is even a room that has mechanical wooden men for Wah to train against, and all of these scenes, together with the Cassanova Wong/Sammo Hung/Beardy training battles, and you’ve got one of the best kung-fu films Golden Harvest put out.

Comfort food indeed.

 

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 10

This is one of the best of Sammo’s early films, and without a doubt a great kung fu film by any standard. Seek it out and watch it if you can! (Hint: It’s on Amazon Prime!)

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Review: Winners and Sinners (1983)

Posted in Dick Wei, Fat Chung, Fung Hak-On, Jackie Chan, James Tien, Lam Ching Ying, Mars, Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao with tags , on March 2, 2015 by Michael S. Moore

Winners Sinners 3

Starring Sammo Hung, Richard Ng, Stanley Fung, John Sham, Jackie Chan, Yuen Biao, Dick Wei, Moon Lee, James Tien, Mars, Fung Hak-on, Wu Ma, Lam Ching Ying, Fat Chung.

Fight Choreography by Sammo Hung

Directed by Sammo Hung

The first official film in the Lucky Stars series finds our first iteration of the group (really missing Eric Tsang!) meeting for the first time in prison, after they are all put there due to their bad luck, and, well, they aren’t really very good and playing bad guys. They form a bond, and the team, consisting of Teapot (Hung), Curly (Sham), Exhaust Pipe (Ng), Vaseline (Charlie Chan), and Rookie (Fung) decide to join Curly’s sister in a cleaning business called the Five Stars Cleaning Company. Meanwhile, a rather bad cop named CID 07 (Chan) does a really inept job of trying to catch a group of drug dealers attached to Jack Tar (Tien), and a mishap causes a briefcase that contains counterfeit plates lands in the hands of the Lucky Stars. Of course they are oblivious at first as they are obsessed with trying to get into the pants of Curly’s sister but soon find themselves in danger as Tar thinks the Five Stars Cleaning company are another rival gang. Most of the Lucky Stars are taken hostage, and its up to Teapot to save his friends and get the girl…

Winners Sinners 1

Too much fun. That’s what all of these actors bring to the table. The story is flat and unoriginal, but never mind that. The Lucky Stars are the draw here, and in particular Sammo Hung and Richard Ng. Sammy brings his innocence as Teapot, a fighter who is good at being a good guy but bad at being a bad guy, but wants to get the girl in the end. Richard Ng, clothes or not, is hilarious as he tries to pull off his complex shenanigans all to see one woman naked, but of course he’s the nut job of the group as well. John Sham brings his normal manic energy to liven things up, and Jackie Chan is on hand to provide stunts, and at the same time play a real prick of a cop. Many HK stars come out to play, and Tien chews the scenes like a nice ham sandwich as Tar, but I was hoping to see more from Lam Ching-Ying as the Butler. As good as everyone is, there is one scene that still has me laughing out loud, involving Vaseline and two thugs, none of whom know kung-fu, but can all strike poses as if they did, and they engage in trying to out-pose each other in the middle of bodies and chairs flying around…and watching what happens when Exhaust Pipe enters this strange scene will have you rolling.

Winners Sinners 2

A warning to Jackie Chan fans: he isn’t the star of this film, and this is the Lucky Stars film where he shows up the least, even though adverts showcase him as if he were one of the major stars of the film.

The fight scenes are as great as one could hope for, the best being the finale in the warehouse as Teapot takes on Fung Hak-On, Dick Wei, and two bald fighters in a duel to the finish. Jackie Chan has a brief fight with Yuen Biao that was under cranked (actions filmed on a slower frame rate to make the speed of the actual fight faster) in a way I thought wasn’t necessary. The battle at Tar’s mansion was also a standout, especially the results of an ill-fated piano jump (you’ll have to see for yourself!). The roller-skating stunts by Jackie Chan were good also, but went a bit overlong, but was worth it for the massive car pileups that occurs at the end of the sequence. With the exception of the final warehouse fight, this is probably the Lucky Stars film with the least impressive fight scenes in the series.

However, any film where Fat Chung sports a Jheri Curl:

Fat Chung

is just gold to me.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 8

Not my favorite of the series, but it’s still a fun first entry into the world of the Lucky Stars! 

Review: My Lucky Stars (1985)

Posted in Bolo Yeung, Dick Wei, Jackie Chan, James Tien, Lam Ching Ying, Lar Kar Wing, Michiko Nishiwaki, Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Yuen Wah with tags , , on June 21, 2013 by Michael S. Moore

my lucky stars

Starring Sammo Hung, Richard Ng, Eric Tsang, Stanley Fung , Charlie Chin, Sibelle Hu, Jackie Chan, Yuen Biao, Dick Wei, Michiko Nishiwaki, Bolo Yeung, Lam Ching Ying, James Tien, Lau Kar Wing, Yuen Wah

Fight Chroegraphy by Sammo Hung

Directed by Sammo Hung

The Lucky Stars are some of the craziest martial arts films out there. It features many of the best funnymen in Hong Kong at the time, led by Sammo Hung. Technically this is their second film, the first being Winners and Sinners, but this is the first film under the “Lucky Stars” moniker, and all of these films feature some of Sammo, Jackie, and Yuen Biao’s best screen fights. As a warning, though, the comedy is extremely juvenile and slapstick, so if slapstick comedy isn’t your thing, you may want to fast forward to the fights. Me? I’m a fan of Richard Ng, so I’ll watch whatever he’s in.

The film begins following Hong Kong police men Muscles (Chan) and his partner Ricky (Biao) are undercover following Paul Chang, a former cop turned crook, to Tokyo, to find out what nefarious business he’s up to. What that business is hardly matters, as Muscles and Ricky chase one of his gang to an amusement park where they are attacked by ninjas dressed in light blue in the broad daylight in front of people. And now I know where the ninjas from Miami Connection got their training from. Muscles beats the tar out of them but in the fight Ricky gets kidnapped. Muscles, as it turns out, was at one time one of the “Lucky Stars”, a group of orphanage kids who turned to petty crimes. He was cast out once he became a cop and sent his best friend Kidstuff (Hung) to prison. Muscles arranges for Kidstuff to get out of prison early and along with the rest of the Lucky Stars, Sandy (Ng), Roundhead (Tsang), Rawhide (Fung), and Herb (Chin). Kidstuff can stay free of prison if he takes the Lucky Stars undercover to find out what Chang is up to and to find Ricky. Their liaison with the police is a beautiful detective Barbara (Hu). Can the Lucky Stars keep their composure around a beautiful woman long enough to save Ricky and bring Paul Chang to Justice?

my lucky stars Jackie Chan

The story is really simple, and features mostly the shenanigans of the Lucky Stars, all of whom have the maturity of twelve-year-olds, and bring no unending annoyance to Barbara. Richard Ng as Sandy, the nutso (that’s debatable) member of the crew, is as reliably funny as always. I like Eric Tsang as Roundhead, but thought his schtick grew old after a while. Chin is good as Herb, but doesn’t really do much. His shining moment will come in another Lucky Stars film. Stanley Fung’s best moment comes early, when he comes face to face with a very angry Bolo Yeung. And jeez, was there a Hong Kong star not in this film? It felt like they were all there. That’s part of the fun of the film, and it did look like everyone was having a blast, including Sammo Hung as Kidstuff, the most competent member of the crew. Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao are really only supporting characters with small parts, despite the DVD covers that feature Jackie as if he was a main character. Jackie’s not even in the film extensively until the last twenty minutes.

my lucky stars2

But what a good twenty minutes they are! Jackie takes on ninjas in a house of horrors, (there is one moment where Jackie Chan is in a mascot getup and gives expressions that are just laugh out loud funny as he stays in character) and then has a fantastically choreographed fight with Dick Wei. Sammo Hung takes on Lau Kar Wing in one of Sammo’s best onscreen matchups, but perhaps the most memorable fight is Sibelle Hu versus bodybuilding champion and martial artist Michiko Nishiwaki. Ms. Nishiwaki gives some leg kicks that looked just brutal. Yuen Biao has an all-too-short fight with Lam Ching Ying, but it does feature one of my favorite moments concerning Yuen Biao’s sweater. Also look out for Yuen Wah as one of the thugs.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 8.5

 My Lucky Stars is a wildly fun film featuring some of 80‘s Hong Kong’s best performers led by legend Sammo Hung. I highly recommend this film, but the best, though, is yet to come!

Review: Shanghai Express aka Millionaire’s Express (1986)

Posted in Cynthia Rothrock, Dick Wei, Hwang Jang Lee, Lam Ching Ying, Richard Norton, Sammo Hung, Shih Kien, Wai-Man Chan, Wang Lung Wei, Yasuaki Kurata, Yuen Biao, Yuen Wah with tags , , , on July 5, 2011 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Yuen Wah, Lam Ching Ying, Hwang Jang Lee, Yukari Oshima, Richard Norton, Cynthia Rothrock, Dick Wei, Shih Kien, Richard Ng, Yu Wang, Wang Lung Wei

Fight Choreography by Sammo Hung

Directed by Sammo Hung

Sammo, a fan of many westerns, had always wanted to do one himself, and decided to call on damn near every star at the time to be in his kung-fu/western mashup. The film was designed to be another Sammo Hung/Jackie Chan/Yuen Biao team up, but alas Jackie wasn’t able to be in it due to scheduling conflicts, but never mind that. Everyone and their brother is in this film, and Jackie being in the film would have robbed someone else of screen time, especially two newcomers, but more on them later.

Sammo plays Cheng, a thief, opportunist and sometimes pimp with big plans for his small hometown of Hanshui, plans the town is unaware of. He had to leave Hanshui after a series of good deeds gone bad, or bad deeds that had a somewhat noble purpose, depending on your POV. Well, Hanshui ran him out of town, but he has a plan to return and open up a casino/ secret brothel, but since Hanshui is a no where town with nothing more than a train track not far away, he had to do something to get the customers in, and has plans to blow up the train tracks just when the Shanghai Express, a train full of wealthy passengers, will pass, making them stay in the town to spend their money there. Captain Tsao (Biao), the former fireman now the law offical thanks to some of his not-too-smart comrades who decided to use a fire to rob a bank (Lam Ching Ying, Yuen Wah and others), knows Cheng and vows to break up whatever scheme he’s running…

Meanwhile a group of bandits that include Dick Wei, Cynthia Rothrock and Richard Norton plan to rob the train near Hanshui in an effort to help a mob family secure documents being smuggled out of China by Japanese operatives….

Also, Master Wong (Yu Wong) and his son, the great Wong Fei Hung, travel in the same car with rival Master Sek (Kien) and his son.

And…the group that robbed the bank in Hanshui plan to use the train to get away with the town’s money.

AND…quite a few more stories that will all come together in Hanshui, leading to a slam bang finale that features some fantastic fight choreography and some genuinely funny moments. Admittedly, the comedy can be hit or miss depending on whether you like the slapstick comedy that was pervasive in Hong Kong in the 80’s. Personally, most of it worked for me, especially the Richard Ng stuff. That guy is crazy funny:

He plays a lecherous douche who bounces between his wife and his mistress, both of whom are on the train. He has some fantastic stunts where he “trots” on the train cars, jumping from one to another with ease, and does the same later on the roof of a three story casino. His facial expressions are hilarious to watch.

The stunts are thrilling to watch, such as a series of impressive fire fighting stunts by Yuen Biao culminating in a jump from the top of a 3 story building to the ground…and lands on his feet. Wow. He really does get to cut loose, and Sammo lets everyone have their moment in the sun, from the comedians to the fighters. I have to give Yuen Wah and Lam Ching Ying credit-they were really game to become the two idiots they play. No fighting for them, but it’s still great to see them playing different roles than what I would normally see from them. Now, in a changeup from most of my reviews, because there are so damn many, let’s look into individual fights, eh?

Sammo Hung Vs Yuen Biao: Wow. This fight would be the showstopper of other, even very good martial arts films, but here it is in the middle of the film, which helps break up the comedy. Sammo and Yuen really bring it, and if you watch the first kick Sammo gives Yuen, that kick almost really took Yuen Biao out. Like really out. These two go at it, and the choreography is excellent here, and you can tell that they are actually striking each other, which is something Sammo demands of all of his action co-stars, but hey, they’re kung-fu brothers, so they know what to expect from each other.

Yasuaki Kurata vs Richard Norton: Yeah, it was really short, and Richard’s end is painful (note to self, never try to kick high on a short girl with sword.) but what was there was gold. Of course Richard says his classic line “Painful?”after he gives Kurata a nasty kick. Great blocking moves in this scene.

Yuen Biao vs Dick Wei: Oh. My. Gosh. This fight was incredible. Yuen Biao and Dick Wei blaze along their fight with pure speed and Yuen’s acrobatic stunts in this fight is stunning to watch. His spin off the balcony is legendary as writ in the scrolls. Wei’s punches were lightning fast and Biao even faster at dodging them.

Sammo Hung vs Cynthia Rothrock:  Yeah, this fight was cool, and it’s no wonder Cynthia became famous in HK cinema after this fight. She hung tight with the big man himself through his fight choreography that had him going from being Sammo to impersonating Bruce Lee. I was disappointed that one of her big kicks was actually done by Yuen Biao as her stunt double, but the rest is fantastic. Sammo really tossed himself around.

Hwang Jang Lee vs Yuen Biao and Sammo Hung: This the most hair-pulling of all of the fights in this film. It barely lasts a minute, when the reality is it was supposed to be the absolute show stopper fight in the film, but had to be cut for the running time.  What’s there was the beginning of something epic that gets chopped to about 30 seconds. Argh! Luckily Hwang does get to jack up a bunch of other guys, but this is still a great opportunity missed.

Yukari Oshima vs a bunch of sad bastards: Yukari showed off her stuff in this fight, and though she isn’t a kendo practictioner she made it look as if she were, and really had a good, if short fight scene.

Also I have to say I loved the fight between young Wong Fei-Hung and Master Sek’s son. Those two kids were great, evoking the classic Shaw Brothers style of fight choreography, and the parents’ response is a funny way to end the scene, as is the train ride where both masters get their shots at each other each time they enter a tunnel. I want to go back and say a thing or two about Richard Norton and Cynthia Rothrock. These films would pave the way for their American B-movies, but they really understood the Hong Kong style of fight choreography and were the few Americans and Australians to do so at the time (There were a few others, but not many. Karen Shepard and Peter Cunningham are some of the others.) They work really well with the Sammo Hung/Yuen Biao/Jackie Chan style of choreography that dominated 80’s HK films from the Golden Harvest camp.

This film is really a sampler kind of film. You get a full plate that has bits and pieces of everyone, and the whole will fill you up, but you wished you had more of this or that. I needed more Hwang Jang Lee and Yasuaki Kurata, and Dick Wei, but that is a small gripe in a film chockablock full of fights, at least in the last half of the film. The first half does contain enough goodwill and comedy to tide you over until then.

(On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best):

CHOREOGRAPHY: (9) Sammo does a fantastic job all around allowing everyone to show off their stuff and have their own “moments”. The fighting mixes being fast and fun with being brutal all at once.

STUNTWORK: (9) Fantastic stunts all around. The scene where the train stops is great, and Richard Ng really does a great job, and Yuen Biao takes it up a level with his acrobatics, especially in his fight with Dick Wei. Some of the falls are just down right painful to watch.

STAR POWER: (10) Did you see the cast list I put up there?!

FINAL GRADE: (9) One of the best martial arts westerns of all time, bar none. There aren’t many fights until the end, but the end fights are plentiful and well worth the wait.

Review: Prodigal Son (1982)

Posted in Lam Ching Ying, Reviews, Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao with tags , , on May 26, 2010 by Michael S. Moore


Starring Yuen Biao, Lam Ching Ying, Sammo Hung

Fight Choreography and Direction by Sammo Hung

Prodigal Son stars Yuen Biao as Master Leung Jan, a young nobleman who loves kung-fu and practices at it every day. The problem is, his ass sucks at it.

The story opens as Jan goes to his local restaurant, the only one in town with Kung-Fu insurance, as it is the prime place for random, senseless kung-fu fights, and finds himself in a fight nearly the moment he shows up. To understand, Jan is a world class dick, calling himself the Kung-Fu King , which would rightly get him an invite to an  ass kicking from every corner of the world. Of course he wins his fight easily, but not for the reasons you think. It turns out that his servant, on orders from Jan’s parents, hires guys to challenge and get their butts kicked by Lam in order to keep him safe. This alone makes them the DUMBEST PARENTS EVER. They never really thought ahead to what would happen when someone who really can kick ass comes into town to do just that. Fear the country bumpkin, people!

Soon, Jan attends a show by a travelling troupe. Of course Jan and his buddies are turned on by the star, but if not for the fact that he hit on the last starlet Jan just narrowly misses a Crying Game moment, so his friend goes to hit on the star of the show they think is a girl. Since the star is actually Yee-Tai, a martial arts master who hears the call of the stage more than anything else, turns Jan’s buddy down. So of course in true kung-fu (or western) film cliché, they have to try to forcibly take her/him, and in a small taste of the great kung-fu to come, Yee-Tai straight-jacks him and his two buddies. So of course Jan finds out, and being the Kung-Fu King and all, goes to get some payback, but he’s in for a shock when Yee-Tai sings and whups his ass at the same time, which I can’t make up my mind whether it raises the bar on Badassery or not. Imagine Placido Domingo singing the Barber of Seville as he goes all Wing Chun on your ass. (hmm…not a bad idea…) It’s kinda like that. Now Jan sees that he never really knew shit, and tries to get Yee-Tai to teach him real martial arts, but Yee-Tai doesn’t want to teach him.

Soon a real badass arrives from another town named Master Ngai Fai. He and his two servants show up to challenge the Kung-Fu King, so you can tell what’s about to happen. Meanwhile, one of Yee-Tai’s buddies in the troupe, a gigolo who comes to Yee-Tai for help as he in in danger of losing his life after sleeping with the wife of another dude who is looking for him. Yee-Tai then tells him not to worry, and in a total dick move has Jan dress in his buddy’s costume as General Kwan, and once in costume cannot speak, which is cold since the husband shows up, and not knowing that the guy in the General Kwan costume is not the one he’s looking for (since Jan can’t speak) and proceeds to have his boys kick Jan’s ass, which they do until Yee Tai goes off and beats the tar out of all of them, which brings him to the attention of Master Ngai Fai, who is in the audience.

As he and his posse leaves, Ngai Fai gets challenged by a guy he had beaten before, crippling his right arm, so the dude has practiced with his left and wants to fight, but he soon learns that crap only works in Shaw Brothers films, not Sammo Hung ones, as Ngai beats him down again, this time crippling his left arm as well, and tells him to piss off. The next night Yee Tai alog with Jan and the entire troupe, arrive for dinner on an invite from Ngai, and soon turns into a friendly duel. The fight between Yee-Tai and Master Ngai is well done, but short, and ends disappointingly when Yee-Tai reveals that he is a sick man, and succumbs to his illness.

Afterward in an interesting turn of events, it turn out that Master Ngai isn’t much different from Jan, but his parents pay Ngai’s servants to do what ever it takes to keep the young master safe, even kill if necessary. So, in a supreme act of overkill the Ngai Posse hires ninjas to kill the entire troupe in the middle of the night, which they do except for Yee Tai and Jan, who, in a suspensful scene involving a burning tent and flipping around burning flags waving around, make their escape. Great kung-fu here mixed with acrobatics. Jan is injured in the escape, and Yee-Tai takes him home.

The best parts of the film occur here, as we meet Yee Tai’s brother Wong Wah-Bo (Sammo Hung) who lives with his daughter, who looks like her father, for better or worse. In a homage/spoof to Magnificent Butcher we are treated to Wong trying to use Kung-Fu with his calligraphy, and the scene is pretty funny. Classic Sammo Hung acrobatics here. The relationship between Yee-Tai and his brother Wong take center stage here, one of the most un-pc relationships you’ll see, which is a good thing, and makes the film all the more fun for it. What follows are great scene after great scene of Jan being taught Wing Chun by both Yee-Tai, and some other forms (Choy Lay Fut included) by Wong. The scenes are a mixture of comedy, great kung-fu, and amazing acrobatics and stuntwork.

Soon Yee-Tai’s illness is too much, and so Jan takes him back to his home where he rich parents can pay for medicine, but Master Ngai finds out they are back, and pays them a visit, and his two lackeys, who I will christen Over and Kill, knife Yee-Tai, killing him, which was not cool at all with Ngai, who has both men beheaded later. Jan must still have a measure of revenge, however, and the best fight of the film comes at this moment. Incredibly fast and complex, this is a fun back and forth fight between two men who may be of equal skill, and there are many good moves and even cringe-worthy falls. At the end Jan finally earns the moniker of Kung-Fu King, and a great movie comes to a close.

On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best)

CHOREOGRAPHY: (9) Every fight scene was done well, and all of then became better each time, culminating in the amazing final fight. Sammo Hung had everyone ready, and had good imagination in showcasing the fights.

STUNTS: (8) Good stuff here, and the falls were convincing, especially at the end. Also impressive was the tent fire scene. Jumping over those flags on fire could not have been easy.

DIRECTION: (9) Sammo does a good job once again, balancing the fighting with the comedy, not letting one or the other go too far. His camera work and editing are as good as always, and he really let everyone have their room to do what they do best.

STAR POWER: (8) Yuen Biao doesn’t quite have the charisma of Sammo or Jackie, but does have a playfulness that shows onscreen. Lam Ching Ying is a veteran of many kung-fu films and does well here as Yee-Tai, a different kind of Kung-Fu Master, and Sammo brings a fresh personality late in the film.

FINAL GRADE: (9) A classic martial arts film that has good comedy and showcases the art of Wing Chun very well. One of Yuen Biao’s best.